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Detroit at Cincinnati Preview: Mighty Mize to the rescue!

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The Tigers and Reds split the first two of the weekend series and Casey Mize looks to take the rubber match.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

One thing this weekend series between the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds has not been lacking in is offense. After firebombing the redlegs on Friday night, the opponent struck back on Saturday scoring a 7-4 win over the visiting Motor City Kitties to even things up. Matthew Boyd got bit by a dinger once again and, despite getting out to an early lead, just did not have enough to pull this one out.

Sunday is a new day and offers a chance for Detroit to steal the road series victory before heading off to Pittsburgh for another interleague tangle. But before we get ahead of ourselves, the Olde English D sends one of its highly-heralded former prospect pitchers to the mound to face a veteran hurler for Cincy. Take a look at what to expect in today’s tilt.

Detroit Tigers (64-73) at Cincinnati Reds (73-64)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park
SB Nation site: Red Reporter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Casey Mize (7-7, 3.59 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Castillo (7-14, 4.30 ERA)

Game 138 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 135.1 18.9 7.1 4.94 1.0
Castillo 157.0 23.5 9.5 3.90 2.7

Casey Mize has had a strong sophomore campaign despite a few rough patches along the way. His 3.59 ERA and 1.15 WHIP are very nice to look at, but the 24-year-old’s 4.94 FIP suggests he is getting pretty lucky, plus he has only managed to collect 1 fWAR (although his bWAR sits at a tidy 3.1) over a healthy amount of innings. Nonetheless, the former No. 1 pick has shown signs of improvement both by the eye and on paper in comparison to last season’s showing.

The right-hander had a little bit of a tough stretch during the dog days of August, recording a 4.44 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP while allowing a slash line of .258 BA/.330 OBP/.559 SLG along with seven home runs over five starts (24 13 innings). He has not thrown 100 or more pitches since June 26 and maxed out at six innings last month. It appears that the workload that comes with a full major league season is catching up with the kid, but Mize has managed to handle himself well.

The Reds send Luis Castillo to try and tame the Tigers on Sunday. The 28-year-old is having a rather mediocre season that appears to be a step back from his previous two campaigns, but he still provides his team value with his peripherals and ability to eat innings. However, one of the reasons for his regression is likely tied to his inflated 1.38 WHIP — the highest of his five-year career. Match that with an FIP that is a notch lower than his ERA and one can see how he has created his own bad luck for himself.

Sunday’s slinger survives on a four-pitch array headlined by a blazing 97 mph fastball and an 88 mph changeup that he uses 29 percent of the time, respectively, as well as a 97 mph sinker he employs 24 percent and an 86 mph slider that sees action 18 percent of the time, according to Baseball Savant. The even spreading of his pitching proclivities is an interesting one that the right-hander has had a good deal of success with. Here is a look at where he ranks among his MLB peers.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Tigers offense vs. Castillo

A fireballer like Castillo is quite intimidating, especially against a team that has the fourth-most strikeouts among major league teams. However, he is giving up a career-high in both hits and walks per nine innings while his strikeouts are at a near a career-low — just a hair over one per inning. If the Tigers can get on base and cause trouble for Cincy’s starter, they could bite into the underbelly of the bullpen and emerge from the rubber game victorious. Also, Hittin’ Harold Castro will be today’s MVP at the plate (Edit: Looks like he is going to have to do it as a pinch-hitter).